What are somatics and how is somatic yoga different from other forms of yoga practice? Thomas Hanna, one of the developers of somatic yoga practices says it is “the body as perceived from within”. It is based on body awareness: proprioception. One type of proprioception (figuring out where our body parts are relative to one another) is relational- Is my arm at my side? Is my chin over my right shoulder? Is my right knee bent towards my foot? and so on.
In somatic yoga we bring the perception to the interior: using an attitude of exploration rather than “performance”, we investigate what the movement feels like rather than the position of the body. Looking at “how do I coordinate movements?” and “how do I incorporate the breath?” we concentrate on the sensations of the movements. While much of yoga involves stretching the muscles, somtic yoga centers on feeling them. Somatics can alleviate “sensory motor amnesia”- a forgetting of what and how certain muscle groups can move. As the result of repetitive movements (repetitive stress injuries), accidents or trauma we may become blind to certain areas of our body. While one workshop will not permanently wake up these areas- the journey can begin; the journey to total body re-integration, greater range of motion and greater freedom of movement. This change is a change for you relative to your own body mechanics, your body type.
Somatic yoga can address many back issues, it is easy on the knees, an ongoing practice can help alleviate chronic pain and it can calm and center the mind and body. This sublte practice ca be a huge challenge for people who are on the go go go!; a challenge that is useful to be faced.
So what do we do in a class if we are not standing, stretching, strenghtening? We are feeling- moving parts of the body in one direction, another part in the other; torso to the right and knees to the left, spine lifted with shoulders and hips pressed into the floor to mention two common postures and activites. The movements are repeated many times, with small variations, including the breath for integration and pace, often with eyes closed and focus inward. How do I feel, what is the sensation, where is the edge of the movement, does repetition increase range of motion, when and how does fatigue manifest? And so on.
Coming this Saturday January 31, from 1 to 3:30 I am going to be combining an hour of somatic yoga with an hour and a half of restorative yoga. We will first move INSIDE ourselves with the slow movements of a somatic yoga sequence, bringing the conciousness to the body self, then conclude with supported restorative postures to seal the deal – have the benefits of the somatic practiced be allowed to settle into the psyche as well as the body.
I hope you will join me there.
Here is a video by a well know Somatic Exercises practioner James Knight James Knight Twist Series